The Journey Begins - March
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
After recovering from my sickness, as the rest of the Semester Abroaders were able to climb Mt. Pinchincha this past weekend, I stayed back because still recovering from a sickness plus altitude sickness didn't seem like a good idea. BUT I had an opportunity to join a team of women mostly from Alliance Academy to play in a Women's Volleyball Tournament at Cotopaxi American International High School/Academy. I showed up that morning to find out that these ladies were not playing around with this tournament. It was time to be serious! That wasn't the end of it though...we arrived at Cotopaxi High School and I was caught off guard! Every other team had uniforms on and looked like they were serious about the game...I could smell the intensity and competition in the room. Not only were we the only team to not have uniforms, but we were the only non-Ecuadorian team. Where were these women from? This was definitely a different world of people compared to the indigenous people I've encountered on a daily basis. These women were goooood. They were awesome; I give them major props. Although our team got last place easily, it was great to play competitive volleyball again and have fun at the same time. The ladies on our team were so encouraging, and we had the opportunity to get to know each other.
That was last weekend, but I can't believe we only have about 3-4 weekends left here in Ecuador. When I was sick, I did get homesick and missed what was familiar like food, friends, family, and etc. But these days, I've been thinking about the great experiences I've had here already. There's still so much more that we will be doing till the end of the semester, but the relationships and environment I've gotten to know is coming to an end. I'm not a very openly emotional person, but I must admit I've been getting emotional on my own times, thinking of the great times I've had here and the people I've met. I've seen God's greatness in my trip here. Through the awesome people and beautiful scenery, He is so evident. All the things I've experienced, I know it is all for a purpose and I cherish and will be cherishing every moment.
Here are some pictures of our visit to the President's House, an awesome outing, and a family dinner we had last night:
Thursday, March 24, 2011
milking cows THEN muy enferma
It's been awhile! I've been suffering from a bad cold like I've never experienced.
Anyways, back tracking to what has been happening since the Backstreet Boys concert. Our time with our host families was finally over, and we were settled back into our humble abode in our dear apartment. In order to celebrate the time spent with our host families, we had a big fiesta at a hacienda far from the city. We arrived and were pleased to be breathing in clean, fresh air.
It was a great time to get to be with all the families and spend time with everyone. It was a great day of eating great food, kabobs, and doing several different activities. Alyse and I took a stroll down the road riding horses followed by milking a cow for the very first time. In order to make the event even greater, we took a sip of the milk that came straight out of the cow. It was a great time enjoying beautiful scenery and surrounded by wonderful company.
Coming back into the apartment was a great time. A huge celebration for us it seemed. There was great song writing, laughter, and cheering on our first night back at the apartment. That night, our social work professors from Trinity came for the week to check up on things for Alyse and my internship as they also looked for future opportunities. This week was craziness as it started out with me starting to get sick. Considering that I only get sick every so often and that I don't stay sick that long, I was caught off guard to find that this cold was severe and lasted over a week. I am still recovering as I type, but I am a lot better. Thank you for everyone that has taken care of me and also for your prayers.
But a week ago, for my internship, we had a huge celebration with the community we're working with. It was a great turnout. They do know how to party here! It was great! I went with my professors and Christy, which they were all mentioned for special guests. They were quite special and also considering they were the only non-Korean-or-Ecuadorian there. I also at one point had to run up to the front to bow; just for like one second literally. There were performances like the local police crew coming to perform with their trained dogs, the Tae Kwon Do team, Ecuadorian singer, and performances by the staff and teachers at the school. It was a great time and I'm glad everything went well.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
“I want it that a way…”
GOOOOD OL' CARNAVAL WEEKEND.....First, Otavalo with the homestay fam and extended family (like Liz's homestay fam). Then, BANOS. Finally, dun dun dun, was Backstreet Boys Concert.
Otavalo...first of all, I wasn't even planning on going, so I planned on sleeping in. In the wee hours of the morning, not really, but for a Saturday...yes. I hear several knocks on my door by my host mom telling me Liz wants me to call her. This is what was up...my homestay madre has changed her mind and wanted to go with Lily & Ivanho (Liz's homestay padres) to Otavalo. So she was wondering if I was willing. How could I reject such a request? Otavalo is about a two-hour drive, and it is known for their open artisan market that sells all types of Ecuadorian goods. We were ready to get our shopping on. BUT in the middle of our great trip, it starts pouring and actually, doesn't stop this time. So we did as much shopping and bargaining as we could in pouring rain, while our homestay families are getting drenched from head to toe waiting for us. On our way back, we stopped by Cayambe and had some of their famous cheese and biscuits with some coffee. It was a great day.
Next on the itinerary was Baños! It was quite an adventure to get to this marvelous place. We walked over in our backpacks to the Trole for which we travelled for an hour before we reached the bus station. As the big group of ten of us walked through the terminal trying to find the right bus, we were finally on our way. With all the traffic of Carnaval weekend (refer to last post), a 3.5-hour trip turned into a 5-hour trip. BUT, we finally arrived in this great town of Baños. Its scenery was beautiful. This town was surrounded by green mountains on all sides, which was accented also by few waterfalls. After getting food to fill our stomachs, we decided to check out the live music playing on one of the streets. To our surprise, OF COURSE, us, gringoes, were sprayed allllllll over with the Carnaval foam spray by all the locals. This is one of the joys of Carnaval...water balloons, foam sprays, and anything else to throw/spray. It was one of those "I don't care anymore" moments where you just get sprayed in the face, ear, neck, and etc. Then, at night, we booked a trip on a chiva (Usually, it's a dance/party bus, but in our case, ours was like a double decker tour bus) up the mountain to see the volcano at 11pm.
The next day, we trekked over to the waterfall, which wasn't what we were expecting. First of all, we were told we were getting soaked, so we should wear sandals. It ended up being a good 15-20 minute hike to this waterfall. Something else that I wasn't expecting was the beauty of the waterfall. My pictures don't even do justice to how beautiful it was. We even climbed through this very narrow tunnel/cave to go right behind the waterfall, which was even more stunning. What a great experience!
The next day, a small group of us, got on the early morning bus to make it back in time for BACKSTREET BOYS! Honestly, I'm not even a big fan, but I really just went for the experience. I don't even know half the songs and I was more familiar with NSYNC while growing up. Tickets were pretty cheap compared to what it would be in the States, and I knew some loud old school music, great friends, and screaming/dancing girls would all equal to be quite an experience. It was quite cheesy with 90s music, cheesy videos, a bad opening act, and not knowing most of the songs, but I made the most of it. I attempted and I think I succeeded at being one of the fans, but it was a great time. All in all, that was my great Carnaval weekend, first one too! Oh Ecuador, how I love thee!
Friday, March 4, 2011
Liga and now Banos!
Internship is going well and weeks have been going by quickly. Our homestay is over in a little over a week! Last night, our semester abroad team along with few others had the chance to go to a Liga de Quito soccer game. First of all, it's my first time at a professional soccer game ever! It was a great experience. It's not every day you see fireworks being lit in the middle of a crowded stadium of people with constant singing and dancing for their national pride against the Argentinian team. My favorite part was whenever we made a goal, or we were close to making a goal, the whole stadium would stand up with such anticipation. When we actually did make a goal, in this case there were three goals, everyone jumped up, screamed and started chanting in unison! What an experience! It was a great time to spend with the group and also breathing in the Ecuadorian national pride and culture.
And to top it all off, it is Carnival weekend and we are off to Baños. Carnival is a week-long celebration/festival leading up to Lent. In Ecuador, it is common to throw things at others that may be messy like water balloons, eggs, tomatoes, but mostly water balloons. So we are going to Baños to embrace this weekend festivities. From what I've heard, it's more of a nature scenic area where there's hiking, horseback riding, hot springs, and etc. So we are living up our dreams by "Going to Baños!"
Liga and Now Baños!
Friday, March 4, 2011
My internship is going well and weeks have been passing by quickly. Our homestay is finished in a little over a week!
Last night, our semester abroad team, along with a few others, had the chance to go to a Liga de Quito soccer game. First of all, it's my first time at a professional soccer game ever! (which are rarely even went to school games) It was a great experience. It's not every day you see fireworks being lit in the middle of a crowded stadium of people, with constant singing and dancing for their national pride against the Argentinian team. My favorite part was whenever we made a goal, or we were close to making a goal, the whole stadium would stand up with such anticipation. When we actually did make a goal (in this case, there were three), everyone jumped up, screamed, and started chanting in unison! What an experience! It was a great time to spend with the group, breathing in the Ecuadorian national pride and culture.
And to top it all off, it is Carnival weekend and we are off to Baños. Carnival is a week-long celebration/festival leading up to lent. In Ecuador, it is common to throw things at others that may be messy, like water balloons, eggs, or tomatoes, but mostly water balloons. So we are going to Baños to embrace the weekend festivities. From what I've heard, it's more of a nature scenic area where there's hiking, horseback riding, hot springs, and etc. I'll let you know once I check it out. It's interesting because we had this inside joke that Baños was this promiscuous place, when in reality it's not. So we are living up our dreams by "Going to Baños!"